First-time cotton growers Tony Sanson and his step-mother Lyn, River Grove, Gunnedah, finished the harvest of their 105-hectare cotton harvest on Monday, and despite a year of challenges, it will be a crop they will grow again.
Mr Sampson said the October crop had to be planted twice; the first seeding was washed out with 80mm of rainfall and flooding.
The replant happened in November and December, and a dry January was another hurdle.
"We also suffered damage to the second planting from a spray drift," Mr Sanson said.
The wet conditions during the past summer and autumn were both a help and a setback.
Insect pressures were low.
"We only had to apply one spray to control our insects.
"And we've had a lot of trouble getting a contractor to harvest the crop."
Mr Sanson said his next-door neighbour Glen Baker, who owns a self-propelled picker, proved to be a saviour and will ensure the crop will be on a truck to Boggabri's gin by the end of this week.
An early frost just before the planned defoliation posed another issue.
"It seemed that everything that could go wrong did," he said.
"But I've always thought like a baker, your first batch will go wrong, and the next will be better."
The Sanson's dryland crop will yield about 4.5 bales/ha, and prices will ensure a good return on their investment.
Their advisers, CGS, provided the support needed to get the crop through to harvest, and Mr Sanson said the weekly inspections gave great peace of mind.
River Grove was able to lock in a contract of 100 bales at $800 each, and while prices have ranged from $1000 down to the current $650, the Sansons are satisfied with the returns.
The soil types on River Grove are heavy clays, and Mr Sanson believes the water holding capacity held the current crop in good stead and will encourage the growth of more cotton as a summer crop alternative.
The cotton was planted single row, with a one-metre skip row.
Sicot 748B3F was the main variety planted, with five per cent dedicated to a refuge crop of Sicott 711 as the refuge crop.
"The refuge crop is going to yield about 3.5 bales/ha, so we're pleased with our results despite the difficulties we've encountered," Mr Sanson said.
Another crop doing well on River Grove is 75ha of canola, which he estimates will yield about four tonnes/ha on its current growth trajectory.
Once the cotton bales are trucked to the gin, a mulcher and root cutter will pass over the cotton stubble, and Mr Sanson will plant 105ha of Durum wheat.
"Durum returned more than $600/tonne last year, and the way commodity prices are holding, it's worth planting at this time of the year," he said.
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